the Lion King is one of more than 150 Lego figures
that were built for the new World of Chima
attraction at Legoland in Orlando, Florida.
Fla. — I am in a boat, chasing Cragger the crocodile
king, who has stolen an orb of chi. My water cannon is
the boat passes out of the Lion Temple, Sam Dalessandro
leans over and gives me a tip. Aim for the brown targets,
he says, and animate a piece of scenery. I shoot at the
first one I see; a pipe "animates" and sprays
water at me.
only the beginning of the series of dousings I will
Quest for Chi, which opened July 3 at Legoland Florida, is
a very wet interactive ride. Based on Lego’s Legends of
Chima line of toys, it is the centerpiece of a new
"land" that features several other Chima
attractions. It is one of Legoland’s most complex rides,
and, aided by the toys and a Cartoon Network animated
series, it has a better developed story line.
it’s a lot of fun.
those who haven’t seen the Cartoon Network show and don’t
know the story, a video recounts the high points for
people waiting in line: "Chi" is a source of
energy and power that comes in a waterfall from Mount
Cavora, which is suspended like a full moon over this
section of Legoland. The lion tribe controls the chi,
rolls it into orbs and shares it with seven other animal
tribes — crocodiles, eagles, wolves, bears, rhinos,
gorillas and ravens.
one day, Cragger, the young and power-hungry king of the
crocodile tribe, steals an orb of chi. Riders board the
boats at the Lion Temple and join a pursuit that will take
them through the habitats of the other animals, ending up
in the home of the crocodiles.
riding with Dalessandro, Legoland’s model shop
supervisor, who says that more than two million Lego
bricks were used to build the Chima attractions, including
about 150 Lego figures. There are seven Legoland parks
worldwide, but the Winter Haven park, the largest, is the
only one that has the ride.
water cannon is mounted in front of each of the eight
seats on the boat and on the land overlooking the river,
where spectators take aim at us. We’re not far into the
chase before I am soaked.
get so absorbed in aiming my water cannon at anyone within
range that I don’t notice the animal tribes’ habitats
we pass. Finally Dalessandro tells me that we have
recovered the orb of chi and the ride is ending.
Reluctantly, I let go of my water cannon. Like the kids
around me, I climb out of the boat, grinning and dripping.
addition to the ride, the World of Chima has Cragger’s
Swamp, a small water play area for toddlers; Speedorz
Arena, a large tabletop-style arena where kids can race
Speedorz, the rip-cord-powered chariots driven by Chima’s
inhabitants; character meet-and-greets; a 3-D Chima movie
and a Lego store.
order to talk about Universal Studios’ new Transformers
3-D ride, let’s first talk about its forerunner, The
Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at the Studios’ sister
park, Islands of Adventure.
is thrilling, full of surprises, creativity and speed, a
POW! BAM! battle between comic-book heroes and villains.
It uses a combination of 3-D projections and flight
simulator technology that leaves riders constantly ducking
or throwing up their arms to protect themselves from the
shrapnel and debris that seem to be coming right at them.
3-D is better.
Transformers ride, which opened June 20 at Universal
Orlando (and more than a year ago at Universal Hollywood
and Singapore) is also a battle between animated heroes
and villains and is based on the same technology,
including the 3-D glasses. Even though Spider-Man was
updated just 18 months ago, it isn’t as technologically
sophisticated as Transformers. Thierry Coup, senior VP for
Universal’s Creative Studio, said the Transformers ride
is "the next generation of Spider-Man."
on the Transformers movies and voiced by the same actors,
the ride "brings the characters to life in 3-D and
places our guests right in the middle," Coup said.
"Being able to experience the great battles between
the good robots and the bad robots is something that
Transformers fans have dreamed about."
the story: Autobots, the good-guy Transformers, are
guarding a sliver of All-Spark, a source of energy
Transformers need to turn from robots into vehicles and
back. The Decepticons attack the warehouse where the
All-Spark is stored. We riders, as green recruits, are the
only humans available to defend the substance, along with
a brash young Autobot named Evac, a character invented for
this ride in collaboration with Hasbro toys.
transforms into a troop evacuation vehicle that the riders
board, then takes custody of the All-Spark in a massive
fist that reaches out from the front of the vehicle.
"Autobots, roll out," commands Optimus Prime,
leader of the Autobots, as he runs to fight the villainous
Megatron, and the battle is on.
is faster paced than Spider-Man, more intense, more
in-your-face — literally, what with all the crashes,
villains, missiles and shrapnel coming at riders (or so it
appears in the 3-D glasses). In one scene, our ride
vehicle ripped through one of the top stories of a
high-rise on the end of a tow chain, and most of us had
our hands up, protecting our heads from the building
collapsing around us.
Transformers scenes are projected on enormous screens, up
to 60 feet high, so that Optimus Prime, for example,
towers over us at his full 28-foot height.
helpful but not necessary to know the major Transformer
characters. The encounters are abrupt and fleeting, and as
soon as one Decepticon is dealt with, another jumps in
with a terrifying crash of metal parts, and another
Autobot steps in to save us.
the end, we deliver the All-Spark, our heads still
spinning, and the hulking Optimus Prime leans down to
thank us in his booming voice: "Your bravery saved
the planet. Well done, freedom fighters!"
factor: moderate to moderately high.
Homer Simpson’s love of food and drink, it shouldn’t
be a surprise that an expansion of the Simpsons’ world
would focus on Fast Food Boulevard.
"Springfield" at Universal Studios, where the
popular Simpsons ride launched five years ago, is growing
into its own land, with a second ride, a carnival midway,
Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern, a fast food court and other
landmarks from the TV show.
food court, Moe’s Tavern and the midway have already
opened. The rest won’t be completed until later this
the successful launch of butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and
the Three Broomsticks restaurant at the Wizarding World of
Harry Potter, Universal has gone even farther in
Springfield, combing through 24 years of television
scripts for details to create a credible Springfield food
Food Boulevard features eateries straight off the show and
a long menu of familiar items including Krusty and Clogger
Burgers, Luigi’s pizzas, Lard Lad’s donuts, Duff Beer
and Flaming Moes.
addition to eateries from The Simpsons, several were
invented for the park. Lisa’s Teahouse sells salads,
wraps, yogurt, fruit juice, and other healthy foods that
Lisa Simpson would eat. Cletus’ Chicken Shack (you may
recall that Cletus confessed to losing a game of
tic-tac-toe to a chicken) sells a fried chicken and waffle
sandwich, made with maple-flavored mayonnaise, that is a
surprise hit. Bumblebeeman’s Taco Truck will open this
summer outside the food court.
menu items either appear on the show, like Krusty Burgers
(made with a special bun, a secret sauce and cheese sauce
instead of a slice of cheese), Duff Beer (a proprietary
beer that is brewed locally and available only in the park’s
Springfield section) and Lard Lad’s giant doughnuts, or
are consistent with the show and its characters, like Lisa’s
healthy salads, said Ric Florell, Universal Orlando’s
senior vice president and general manager of revenue
as the Universal staff did with butterbeer, flying to
Scotland with a variety of creations so Harry Potter
author J.K. Rowling could pick the one she liked best, it
created recipes for a much longer selection of menu items
in collaboration with Gracie Films, producer of The
Simpsons, and Fox television. Then the food was flown to
California, where it was tasted and approved by the show’s
departure from the show: the Flaming Moe. On TV, the drink
is alcoholic and its secret ingredient is cough syrup. At
Universal, it’s essentially orange soda poured over dry
ice so it bubbles and smokes. "The reason we did that
is we wanted everybody in the family to be able to drink
it," Florell said. (At $7.99 a glass, everybody in
the family probably won’t have their own.)
next: Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ’n’ Hurl, which moves
much the same way as Disney’s Dumbo but is topped by the
long-tentacled space alien Kodos, features spaceships
instead of elephants, and has an attitude. "Foolish
humans, you have been fooled," Kodos says, then
encourages riders to ram their ships into characters from
The Simpsons. Her dialogue was written by the Gracie Films
crew, said Mike West, executive producer for Universal’s
the waterfront by the Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, West said, will
be Duff Brewery (drinking but no actual brewing will take
place here); a statue of the town’s founder, Jebediah
Springfield; and Chief Wiggum’s police car crashed into
a fire hydrant near a Lard Lad donut shop, which will be
topped by a 30-foot statue of Lard Lad.
food is as much a part of the theme and the story as the
buildings," West said. "Who doesn’t want to
come to Krusty Burger and get a Krusty Burger or a Clogger?"
have the chicken-waffle sandwich and a Duff.